Virtual Learning Show summer 2014 – what to expect

It’s the summer and time for L&D conferences once again. One of which is the Virtual Learning Show, hosted by LPI CEO Colin Steed.

It’s a free, online, conference focusing around online facilitation and webinar delivery, how to design online learning, using the support tools that we consider “social media” and also digital content tools. It’s two days, run in separate weeks, with a number of online sessions delivered by experts.

This year’s line up looks fascinating. Not just because myself and Colin are opening up the two days with a shoot out arguing about whether Adobe Connect or Cisco WebEx Training Centre is the best online classroom, but because all the other speakers are experts in their fields, such as: digital curation; immersive learning; improving live online training; using your voice online and more.

To get a flavour of previous Virtual Learning Shows, here are my blogs, summarising some of the contents, speakers and my
impressions of attending in previous years:

Impressions from summer VLS sessions:

Other related blogs and links:

Virtual Learning Show (winter 2013) – day two

The winter Virtual Learning Show, organised by Colin Steed is now at day two. Here are my summer show and winter day one blogs. This is what the line up was for the day.

All about the community

Mike Collins from DPG spoke passionately and eloquently about where to start with communities.

Mike said that at one time his view of communities was to just get going, just go and do it. He now feels that the strategy is important. I think this is key as it can involve different people, departments and needs role models and work to win over sceptics.

Talk of passion for changing how people approach technology in learning was an important point that Mike delivered, and did so with passion himself.

A lovely, simple, elegant tip shared by Mike was this:

There was also the great leadership video shared – highlighting the need for followers in online communities:


Mike was honest in sharing that, even after 18 months of the DPG community, that they were still learning lessons from their learners, about what they wanted from the community. It’s refreshing to know this if you are at the beginning of your journey or battling up hill!

And a couple of resources from Mike:

All about the slides

David Smith from TMA World talked about how to leverage technologies and not focus just on PowerPoint.

David reminded us that using a visual presentation is enabling us to put on a performance. He emphasised he wasn’t against PowerPoint, Keynote or similar packages and referenced the chat comment about a “bad workman blaming his tools”. The below video was mentioned – worth a watch if you haven’t seen it:

David spoke through too many bullets, bad clip art and so on that a lot of people in the audience of the session were on board with, but we all know colleagues and practitioners that don’t know this yet.

David spoke through different types of interaction and how important this is for the online session. In the chat window there was a raging debate about how many slides are too many, or too few in a session. Some commented that too many felt like a film and was difficult to keep up with. Another person commented on two slides being used in a 45 minute session and the boredom that ensued.

I loved the radio analogy when David said “everyone’s tuning in to the same radio station: WII FM – What’s In It For Me”. There was discussion about engagement every 3-5 minutes and how important that is.


There was also discussion around use video/webcam in online sessions: great if you get the lighting and background right and use it at the right times so as not to distract learners throughout.

David recommended the book Brain Rules by John Medina. In the spirit of making things affordable and engage in new technology I tweeted this:

Preparation is key

Karen Hyder started talking about preparation in online delivery. Karen is an experienced in online delivery and producing – it was a great experience to be a producer for one of Karen’s LPI webinars earlier this year.

This session was best practice interaction in looking at how to change up from face to face delivery into the online classroom. It focused on some of the face to face tools a lot of people are used to and what might happen in the online session instead.


Karen highlighted areas to prepare for your online event: the trainer, the content, the participants and the software.


This session was great for people looking in more detail about their preparation for online classes. Karen highlighted not to be complacent about your online delivery, even if something has gone well.

There were all sorts of bits of advice, including the potentially controversial “ignore chat” in order to deliver well. She did then advocate to come back to it and cover the contents.

I think one of the most important things that Karen highlighted was that for “every one hour of online presentation you need three hours prep. If you are doing the instructional design it could be 10 times that”. Something for people to take on board when planning their sessions and calendars.

Panel discussion

This was a great session earlier in the year with lots of video feeds online. In this session it was all about engagement. On the panel were Clive Shepherd, David Smith, Michelle Parish and Mike Collins.

Colin introduced the concept that engaging learners online is more than just ticks, crosses and application share. David Smith said that trainers who were new to the online classroom need to have experienced it themselves. I agree with this situation and it’s something mirrored by the attendees of the Certified Online Learning Facilitator course – attendees often say that they will be able to empathise with their own attendees having been through a range of emotions and reactions themselves as (possibly/probably) new to online learning themselves.

Mike Collins brought in some lessons from his community session from the morning and getting learners engaged with the content earlier in the learning process. He also talked about getting people from the mindset of I know what I know to wanting to share and help other people learn. Progress can be made with those people by talking through how the tools work, sharing some blogs those people have found useful themselves and helping them to realise the value.


Clive said that we have to be aware of how people want to communicate and engage. He highlighted that trainers are often comfortable in the physical classroom whereas learners often bring baggage with them. We have to remember that online too and ask learners if they want to use chat because they don’t like the microphone, or perhaps microphone because they aren’t comfortable typing.

The End

Another interesting day online with lots of food for thought and discussions galore in the chat panel. All very engaging and lots to reflect upon. I look forward to next year all ready!

Virtual Learning Show (winter 2013) – day one

The winter Virtual Learning Show, organised by Colin Steed, has come around so quick! I really enjoyed the two days in the summer (see my blogs here) and with the line up for the winter online L&D conference, it wasn’t a hard decision to sign up for the free event!

Colin gave an introduction to the day coming up, including mentioning CDOL, to new online course from the LPI:

Making the case for face-to-face learning

The first session was with Clive Shepherd from Onlignment. Here are some tweets for a flavour of the session:

What I picked up from Clive’s session…

That across L&D and also business we need to change from our reactive thinking that all training has to be delivered in a face to face classroom – usually at great resource expense. As an online trainer embracing ever more technology, this isn’t a hard one for me to take on board, however everyone is in a different point of their thinking and experience on this. We have to help people along with that!

Evaluating virtual training: a scorecard for success

With Kassy LaBorie from Dale Carnegie Digital:

Agree with this about Kassy!

What I learnt from Kassy…

That I’m doing the right things in my online (and face to face!) training with regards interaction and collaboration. I can always improve this and I continue to strive forwards.

Social Media and Virtual Classrooms

With Kassy LaBorie and Thomas Stone, both from Dale Carnegie Digital:

What I learnt from Kassy and Thomas…

The confirmation of the chat window being so important in the online classroom. I love to get people interacting this way, as you can see by my tweets above. I also miss it when I’m in the face to face classroom!

Design for behaviour change

With Julie Dirksen.

Colin also recommended Julie’s book.

Julie posted her slide share too.

What I learnt from Julie…

A very informative session about behaviour change. The key thing for me was about the interactivity. Julie’s material and delivery is excellent but for me not as participative as other sessions. Certainly something I need to ensure I do across all of my online sessions to keep people engaged.

Coming up next!

Some comments from in the Virtual Learning Show chat:

“There must have been an incredible amount of work gone in today. Well done. Well delivered.”

“Just wanted to say I have found the session very formative and useful I am new to delivering on-line training so this has really helped :)”

And now looking forward to Day Two! Sign up for free:

See all the #VLS13 tweets:

Impressions from Virtual Learning Show 2013 day two – panel discussion hosted by Craig Taylor

Panel discussion: How can emerging technology enrich our offerings and add value to our business?

This was the last session of the Virtual Learning Show – a great second day which has flown past. This international session was hosted by Craig Taylor, based in Brighton on the south coast of the UK. Also on the Panel were:

The session opened with host Craig Taylor getting his webcam up and running. We then saw the other panellists joining in. It was great to see real live moving, talking faces in the online session. Most of the PowerPoint slides used today were well designed, informative, graphical, annotated and pacey. But it’s not the same as the variety of the human face.

After introductions Craig highlighted that this session with webcams and a panel from around the world was something a bit different.

The content of the session turned to one of the questions from the Google document that people contributed to prior to the Virtual Learning Show. Do open badges have a place? Bianca Woods suggested to “use badges for portfolio of skill sets”. Ryan Tracey said “open badges are the epitome of visibility… for when you move between organisations to show that the training was meaningful”.

Koreen Olbrish said of open badges that “the differentiator is between the experience and the level of competency”. Bianca added “I’ve got a bit on badges in the second half of this blog post

The conversation moved on to “What are the three learning technologies/approach/mindsets that a modern L&D professional needs to get better at?”

Barbara said “making sense of data. Looking at what marketing does well and bringing some of those techniques forward”. Koreen said “up front analysis” is important, as we “often gets skipped and we jump into design. Also focus on providing opportunities to practice skills, not just acquire knowledge”. Bianca added “basic design skills. You don’t have to be a graphic designer… use it in day to day work. Have a mindset of being curious. Also knowing about the other worlds we work with, not being in the training bubble”.

And Ryan commented to have a “digital literacy mindset, not just a tool. If you have the attitude to give things a go you can get insights to what you can do with those tools”. 

A brilliant panel session. A few audio blips of bandwidth to the system and a few people had to login again. But no major disaster. Loved to hear all the different answers and I look forward to more sessions along these lines.

Impressions from Virtual Learning Show 2013 day two – Julie Dirksen

Using game design to create approach-based learning

Julie Dirksen is from Usable Learning and is an instructional designer. Julie is focusing on using game design in the learning environment, but emphasises that this doesn’t have to be designing whole games. This really interested me as I know I’m not going to make some immersive video game for my learning, but I’m interested in taking the concepts behind this and what can be put into the classroom. My brother works in the computer games industry and most of his life revolves around consoles, PCs and games, so I’m well aware of that level of interest!

Julie started with highlighting about the “gamer stare” that I’m sure we’ve all witnessed from kids/friends/family or been pointed out about ourselves. That gormless look when someone is concentrating completely on the game they are playing. Julie highlighted that “with games learning is the drug” and the way to achieve that is with “attention, flow and structure”.

With attention, Julie highlighted that our attention span can be quite low and if we are forcing our learners to pay attention we are lucky to get 7-10 minutes from them.

However Julie also highlighted the Optimal Experience research by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, where we are really focused on what we are doing and time flies by. This happens when we are challenged within our skill level.

I really liked Julie’s analogy of feeling like you are cycling uphill when you are learning something new versus the feeling of free wheeling down hill when you are using something you already know. Julie then had two great slides where she explained that a lot of traditional classes are like constantly cycling uphill with more and more new things to learn.

Then Julie suggested that using a game model for classes start easy, add more information, speed up the process and so on to the end challenge.

I really liked Julie’s point about WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) is important for learners, but what about thinking about WCIDWT (what can I do with that?), back on the job.

Julie also spent some time talking about how goals are important in the classroom and accomplishments shouldn’t just be “completed module 4” but more like “I crushed the quarterly sales target”.

A really interesting look at games and learning without having to design the next Tetris, Monopoly or whatever your favourite is!

Impressions from Virtual Learning Show 2013 day two – Claire Line

Live Online Learning at Hogan Lovells

Claire Line is Learning Technologies Manager at global law firm Hogan Lovells and her session was about the journey the firm has taken to implement web conferencing and training online.

Claire commented at the beginning of her session that she was going to be very open and honest about what she’s learnt. I thought this approach was quite fresh as so often things are wrapped up in a politically correct or HR way. We can’t learn if we can’t be honest.

“There was no consistency to training across the globe when trainers would come in, deliver and leave” said Claire, explaining why web conferencing was implemented. Claire posed the question “why are you implementing web conferencing? Budget, travel… what else?” of the audience. The answers included “reaching users, worldwide learners, no classroom available means no training, flexibility, just in time learning, speed”.

The session went through a discussion about licencing and how this grew substantially across the company and then focused on the challenges.

Claire commented “our first challenge was new technology. The biggest issue ten years or so ago was no guidance, tips, tricks or COLF in those days. Are the learners learning? This was another challenge. It’s easier in a face to face classroom. Online trainers felt they didn’t know if people were following along”.

The audience were asked what challenges they faced in going online and the responses included “lack of equipment, attention of learners, language, fear of technology, connectivity, trainer’s reluctance”.

Language across an international audience was an issue discussed.

Claire asked “what advice do you have to simplify the language in your web conferences?” Answers from the audience included “pre-scripting, storyboarding, being mindful of what you say, use emoticons to gauge understanding, good pictures”.

Claire moved on to talking about what is still being improved at Hogan Lovells. One issue was about adapting classroom to online content.

Other improvements included promoting web conferencing across the international firm and best practice for online work.

I love that part of Claire’s work is to evangelise – I think it’s probably part of something we all have to do!